Keith Campbell's prisoner of war diary

YCampbellKW423220v1.pdf

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Keith Campbell's prisoner of war diary

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Note on front - 'original diary kept as P.O.W. in Germany. Vey illegal, but managed to keep it. 24/7/44 - May 45, K W Campbell A423220'.

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One booklet

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IBCC Digital Archive

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This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

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YCampbellKW423220v1

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Original diary kept as a P.O.W. in Germany. Very illegal, but managed to keep it.
24/7/44 – May 45.
KW Campbell A423220

K.W. Campbell
Unit 20, Redleaf Appts
1630 Pacific Highway
Wahroonga NSW 2076

[POW ID tag]

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Mr. K.W. CAMPBELL
[deleted] 142 Coonanbarra Road [/deleted]
WAHROONGA NSW 2076
Unit 20
1630 Pacific Hwy
Wahroonga
94873250

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Set out from our drome on the night of 24th July 44 – the target being Stuttgart. Kept to height and speed on the way in and had a good trip to the [symbol] . Saw P.F.F. drop their markers and bombed successfully – still seeing no fighters. On the run up the flak at the [symbol] looked rather warm & could some of it burst & rattle on the bomb bay, so instead of just having my parachute I clipped one side of it to my harness - a thing I have only done once before, and don’t really know why I did it then except perhaps for the [deleted word] additional

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feeling of security it seems to give. Turned off after having bombed & Bob, the engineer said he was going back to check ‘bombs gone’ & was just turning around to get back to the H2S set again & taking chute off – just then there was what seemed like a heavy, dull explosion behind me and the next thing I remember was floating down on my chute and only one strap of the harness. The explosion, a flak shell in the forward part of the kite or a fighter coming in unnoticed from underneath firing cannon shells. I didn’t know what, blew

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me right out of the perspex of the nose of the kite and only for the fact I had my chute on I would have fallen to the deck without a chute – not a pleasant experience especially from 19,000ft. I don’t remember pulling the chute, it must have been automatic. The last thing I remember, is just before I was blown out, someone said bloody hell-“ over the intercom & then my plug must have been pulled out & luckily it didn’t get tangled up or the cord may have strangled me as I had my helmet on.

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We were at 19,00ft and it took some time to get down. It was a fantastic experience coming down – I could see the flak and S/L at the [symbol] & the bombs bursting & tracer in the sky & several kites fly past & the thin cloud coming up to me, while I was just gently swaying in the air on a strap – it seemed unreal - . On the way down I thought I saw our kite hit the deck, there were several patches of fire where it probably broke up. Finally saw the ground looming up and it came with amazing suddenness and practically

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before I knew what had happened I was on the ground in the middle of a wheat field, realizing I was still alive and O.K. Took off my harness and bundled it up with my chute & mae west, after having taken the torch from the latter. I then got as far as possible from where I had landed, travelling until dawn in a S.W. direction. Landed at about 0215hrs on 25th July, south of Stuttgart, and left the wheat paddock after about 1/4hour and continued until I found a road going in the right direction – south. Eventually found one, after walking thro’ many fields, and

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started to walk along it – came to a village & decided to pass thro it, which I did and was very glad to have a drink and wash at the village pump, as I was very thirsty & covered in blood & dirt. Kept on walking until dawn & then found a wood with fairly thick undergrowth & made myself as inconspicuous as possible, and as I was tired out, and went straight to sleep. Woke up at 1030 and the sun was well out. I thought of the rest of the kites – did they all get back and the chaps would be in bed by now. And where was the rest of the

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crew? Still I couldn’t afford to worry about that so had a cigarette and took stock of what I had. This included my usual escape kit – maps, 2 compasses, money, rations, water bag, saw, pencil etc & besides that the torch from my mae west, first aid kit, handkerchief, knife, 24/-, horlicks tablets, chocolate, gum & sweets etc. After that I took stock of my injuries, which I was very pleased to find, consisted of only a few scratches & bumps. My right ear was cut & covered with blood & the right side of my face had 3

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scratches, my left jaw was swollen & on my left hand, two deep cuts & several others. When washed they were O.K. and presented little difficulty, and looking into my steel mirror, found I was quite presentable. I then cut off the tops of my flying boots and my stripes, brevet etc. from my battledress. Then consulted my maps & found I was somewhere south of Stuttgart, but couldn’t pinpoint myself accurately. Spent the rest of the day making rough plans and smoked a few cigarettes. Set out on the road again

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at about 2200 hrs – passed several people but they took no notice of me. Walked for about 2 hours and then watched the boys raid Stuttgart again. It was a very inspiring sight, seeing the flares go down & flak & bombs bursting, tracer etc. Went on again, by this time I was very thirsty but couldn’t find any water, even though I passed through several villages. About 0400 I [deleted] passed [/deleted] found a stream & had a long drink & filled my water bag, had a square of chocolate & a few horlicks tablets. Carried on until dawn without further incident

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and hid up at dawn again, in a wood and had a cigarette, piece of chocolate & some horlick tablets & went to sleep. Fortunately the weather was good and not too cold, but the ground was damp – still I had plenty of clothes on. Woke up at about 1000 hrs & had breakfast – a square of chocolate, tablets & water and a few cigarettes. Luckily I had plenty of matches & cigs & my lighter. The torch was very handy for map reading at night. Reviewed the position again and found approx where I was. Sat for about 1/2 hr. & got thoroughly sick of doing nothing

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so got up & had a look around – found the surrounding country deserted so decided to push on thro the wood which I did. Came to the end of the [indecipherable word] wood & pushed on from there along the bed of a stream as it went in the right direction, south, as I was making for the Swiss border about 80 mile away. Continued on and saw no one. Came to another big wood and passed through it & at the end was a big village so had to stop. Went back [indecipherable word] some distance & had a wash in the stream & drink & chocolate, tablets. On this very meagre diet for the last few days I was

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very hungry so went into a field & picked a cabbage & ate it. Decided to go back further and skirt the village which I did but had to cross about 1/2 mile of open country to get to the next wood. Had a drink & chewed some wheat stalks. The ground was all under heavy cultivation & nothing wasted. As it was very hot & I was heavily clothed & dumped my flying boot tops which I had. Continued on for a few mile & came to a main road which I crossed There was another village 1/2 mile on my left and I walked along the back of a wide river

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Was very tired so stopped by the stream for a while & located the [deleted] stream [/deleted] river on my maps. Took off my flying sweater as it was very hot & had a lie down & dozed off. Was wakened by the shouts of a bunch of children swimming in the river. Unluckily one of them saw me & began to shout to the others & point to me & climb up to where I was, so I just grabbed my waterbag & cleared out, leaving my sweater behind. Went across several fields & along farm tracks, passing quite a lot of men & women working in the fields, who gave me suspicious glances but

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said nothing, so I kept on. Passed another lot of swimmers who waved & shouted – was about 100 yds off, so I waved & shouted back. Kept on the road & finally came to a village & as there was little cover about I decided to go thro’ it which I did successfully – the people just looked at me & said nothing. One chap said something to me so I grunted & passed on. Passed thro’ O.K. & decided to have a short rest in a wood beside the road. Had a little to eat & drink & went to sleep for a while. Workers coming home thro’ the wood awakened me so I pushed along the road. Walked that night, thro’ several villages, along the road, but nothing eventful happened – was very hungry & tired & there was nothing to eat in the fields. Slept in a wood next day awoke

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at about 10.30. Was very hot so cut down my flying sox. The wood was near a [indecipherable word] so decided to push on. Continued along the road for about 2 mile, quite a lot of military cars, lorries, & civvie [sic] cars, buses, cycles etc. passed me uneventfully. Went thro’ a wood & came to the end of it & saw a thick one about 400yds ahead so walked along the road, making for it. When I was about half way there a lorry passed me & then pulled up & three men got out of it & walked towards me & something to which I replied in French, making out I was a French worker but they asked me for my papers which I didn’t have so after some discussion they took me in the lorry to the local Gestapo at Tubigen [sic] . I ate what was left of my chocolate & gave some to the little kid they had

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with them, who was very pleased with it. The chaps brought me a drink& treated me quite well & said in very broken English “you Englander? – prisoner, yes?” By then I was very hungry & dirty & tired so was quite happy about being taken. I had covered about 40 mile altogether but had no definite clue where I was except I was going in the right direction by my compass. Threw my knife away and was finally taken over by an army S/Sgt who took me to where he was billeted. He spoke a little French & so did I so had a small modicum of conversation & sign language did the rest. He made out his report & searched me & took all my belongings except my handkerchiefs, made a list of my stuff. Ate my chocolate pack and most of my rations & smoked a lot of my cigarettes before he got them. After he had finished with me he took

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me to the local Gestapo jail where I spent the night in the morning was taken out – the centre of interest to the people – and marched to the next town by a guard, walking in front of him at pistol point. The walk was about 4 mile & most of the 4 mile it poured with rain. Finally arrived at the Army H.Q. & was put in a cell at about 1000 hrs. At 1230 was taken out again to another army place where they tried to ask me questions but no one could speak enough English so they didn’t get too far. Waited around for an hour and then was put in a truck with a guard, driven to the railway, where after a long wait, a train came. After many short & uncomfortable train trips & long waits I finally arrived at the Guard House of a Luftwaffe fighter drome, where I met the crew of a Lanc. As I had

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eaten nothing for 36 hours I was very hungry so asked for something to eat. Stood against the wall & after an hour they brought in some macaroni & “coffee” – filling but not very tasty but we all had as much as we could [indecipherable word] . After that we were allowed to talk so [indecipherable word] stories with the Lanc boys. Went to sleep on the floor & was woken at 0200 hrs & taken to the air raid shelter – the boys were raiding. Stuttgart again & we were fairly close. Back again & woke up & had to spend our time until 1200 hrs standing & sitting. They then took us to the H.Q. where they interrogated us. Didn’t get anything out of us except name, rank & no. so took us back to the guardroom. At about 1630 were put on a truck with guards & taken to the railway. Passed thro’ Stuttgart – I’ve never see a place so devastated, all the buildings were a shambles, rubble

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was covered the roads & footpaths, burnt out buildings, bomb craters, fires still raging with fireman trying to put them out. The whole city was the same & it took a long time to get thro’ it – traffic was very restricted, no trams as the rails were wrecked. Finally got to a suburb a long way out where we pulled up at the station. Waited in the truck for 1/2hr., the centre of interest to all & then went into the station where we waited 3 1/2hrs for a train, again the centre of interest to all the civilians many of whom passed very hostile remarks about us, but we had a strong escort who kept them moving. Finally caught a train & after some hours arrived at Frankfurt where we had a slice of bread & waited in an air raid shelter for some hours. Got on another train & arrived at the interrogation centre, Oberwest. Marched to the prison camp where they

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searched us, photographed & fingerprinted us etc. & then was put in a room 9’x4’6” with a bed & stool in solitary. Stayed there in solitary for 3 1/2 days, the only break being 2 pieces of bread – German brown, sawdust variety with this bread for breakfast & [4 deleted words] coffee, a bowl of soup for dinner & 2 pieces of bread & marjorine [sic] for tea & equally rotten warm tea. There was nothing to do all day and I was getting really sick of it when finally the guard came in & too me to interrogation. The chappie there was really good, offered me a cigarette & asked me my name, rank, & no. which I gave him. Talked for a while – he spoke good English - & then he asked me some more questions which I told him I couldn’t answer. He just laughed & said it was useless not giving it as he had it already & then

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proceeded to tell me the names of our Flight Commanders, C.O. and many other officers o [deleted word] my sqn, the equipment we had, and losses and the crews. he only made one slip, that about where we were stationed as we had moved recently, so I didn’t enlighten him. He then told me all the training stations in England & Canada & gen about them. It amazed me [indecipherable word] the extent of what he knew. He then gave me a list of the names of chaps out of 3 kites, shot down when we were, who were dead – two of the kites were from our sqn, one the old ‘P’, our kite [indecipherable word] . Among the names were 4 of the crew & all the other crew from the sqn, & 4 names from the other kite. There were also 6 bodies unidentified which must have been 3 from our kite & 3

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from the other, as we carried a second dicky, which would make up the number of the crews. I realized how lucky I was, as out of 8 of us in the kite, I was the only one to get out alive, and then only by a lucky chance. I had hoped to see some of the chaps, but it was a long chance now. I gave the names of the crew so they could get a decent burial & asked for [deleted word] photos of their graves which were promised. (Write to this address after war to get phots of Keith and Pat’s grave & perhaps rest of crew. Fleigerhorst Kommandantur Eghterdingen Bonlanden near Stuttgart, Germany) The interrogation chap was very decent, gave me plenty of cigarettes & had a chat with him about the war, V1’s over London, Russia & general topics – very interesting. He also gave me permission to shave & wash & have a book. After

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that I felt much better. Saw him again next morning & he asked me some more questions, many of which I couldn’t answer, but he nearly always had the answer himself. He got my belongings back & gave the to me – my pencil, watch, comb, cig case (-cigs) & my personal stuff – all the rest, brevet, etc was confiscated, but I thought myself lucky to get what I did. He said I would be out that afternoon & at about 1600 hrs. was taken out of my room and taken to the other barracks with a lot of other chaps. I was very glad to have company again. Met 2 chaps from my sqn. so we stuck together. Saw on the walls, the names of other crews from the sqn. & other chaps names I knew. Slept the night there & in the morning boarded a train for the transit camp.

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Dulag – Luft. One good thing, we were all P.O.W’s now & the Red Cross would notify our people as soon as possible. Arrived at Wetzlor where the camp is at about 1230, hot, hungry & dirty. The Jerry trains are pretty busy, usually 4 or 6 wheel carriages with wooden seats & very crowded & slow & a few good main line trains. In my travels I saw many evidences of bombing – cities & rail centres, factories etc. Walked from Wetzlor to the camp, about 6 mile, away – were searched again, checked in & [deleted word] then given what clothing we needed & a Red Cross case containing, clothes, cigs, pie, tobacco, razor, brushes, blades, soap, towels, sweater, sox and everything like that – it was marvellous coming at a time like that as we only had what we wore & that was very dirty.

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We explored the cases like kids at Xmas time with their toys. Next we were given a hot shower & put on clean clothes. I’ve never felt better than I did then, after being dirty for so long & then to get thoroughly clean again. Were given huts then & got settled in. Supper was at 1700 hrs & as we were practically starving went in first. They have a big central mess & pool all the Red Cross parcels – that meal was really wonderful, salmon, potatoes, bread, butter & jam & plenty of wizard milk coffee. After the Jerry rations it was a wonderful change. The [deleted word] other chaps knew we were hungry so let us have all we could eat – very decent of them. Had a good sleep that night, wrote a postcard home. Breakfast in the morning –

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porridge, bread & butter & coffee – really good. Washed out dirty clothes after that & made a good job of them. Dinner time came & we had a meat & veg. soup, 1/2 packet of raisins plenty of milk & cig ration. Were told in the afternoon we were moving to out permanent camp so got packed & had tea, similar to last night, & marched to the station at Wetzlor again & got into our carriage. Were given a Red Cross parcel between two of us for the trip + Jerry rations, so apart from overcrowding had a good trip – our carriage was put onto various trains, goods & passenger until we got to Bankau. Wetzlor camp was our first

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introduction to the Red Cross & everyone was very grateful to them – their clothes case & parcels make life much more endurable, in fact I do not know what we would do without them. Walked from Bankau to the camp – Stalag 7, about 5 mile. The camp is comparatively new & at present are living in small huts, 6 of us together. The chaps have the place fairly well organised, plenty of sport, entertainment, library, studies, music – various “shops”, barber, sports, exchange etc. The basis of all exchange is cigarettes and used in the same way as money. We get 1 Red Cross parcel per man per week & they are really wizard – sometimes American & other times English. They really keep us alive as

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Jerry rations are rather meagre & we can have the parcel contents to supplement them & as small luxuries. The 6 of us pool our parcels & find they go quite along way and live quite well. Two cards and one letter every 14 days are allowed which isn’t bad – very little to write about. Have had several good games of cricket & heard some good music, concerts etc. sports etc. The time passes fairly quickly – talking, reading, studies, sport, entertainment etc. & I know quite a few chaps here, several from the old squadron. Each new arrival of prisoners is eagerly awaited as they bring fresh news & there may be someone you know. If I could only let

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my people & friends know that I am O.K. it would be a big help but everything takes time.

Have been here several weeks now and have settled down to the routine of camp life. If you look at it the right way it is just like spending a holiday roughing it. A typical day is, get up say 0700 hrs & the two chaps on “duty crew” for the day get breakfast, porridge if it is on of if not we have something else, fruit & cream or meat & bread & butter & jam & coffee. Wash up & clean the hut out & parade at 0900 hrs. After that our time is our own until lunch. May do some washing, read, play cards etc.

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Lunch time Jerry gives us potatoes and peas or cabbage and sometimes meat, but very little, still the potato ration isn’t too bad & we often get seconds [deleted word] Follow up by sometimes having a sweet or bread & butter & tea. Often save some potatoes for tea. Wash up again & spend the afternoon as you like. As the weather is perfect we get around in a pair of shorts only and in the afternoon around 1400 hrs usually get under the pump – its ice cold but very fresh. Parade at 1630 hrs & then we get tea ready & collect rations, a loaf of bread and perhaps sugar or marg or jam. Have made a lot

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of cooking utensils [deleted word] out of tins & use it to fry our stuff, bacon & egg powder & stuff out of the parcels. We make some very tasty meals & its worth the trouble it takes. Amuse ourselves until 2000 hrs when we have supper, biscuits, bread & butter & jam & cocoa. On Sundays we usually go to church. We have made several cakes – very good too, from grated bread & biscuits & pudding powder, raisins, dried fruit, milk, sugar, prune kernels butter etc. & mixed it up & put it in our tine & cooked it. Tried it with chocolate icing – grated choc. milk powder, sugar, butter etc. It is really tasty and

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we make one or two a week. Some of the ideas for cooking seen around the camp are very ingenious, tins, bits of wood put together to make a blower, & we have made a stove & oven & several tins on top of each other to make a small stove. Nothing is wasted as all paper scraps etc. does for fuel. Food boxes [two indecipherable words] shelves, cupboards etc. & large supply tins come in handy for making various things. We get our news from Jerry communiques which are put up daily. [deleted] Everyone looks forward [/deleted] The weather is perfect to date – hot sunny days & cool nights & the

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light holds out well – it’s a pity there isn’t a river to swim in. They are building us new barracks & supposed to go into them shortly. I hope so as they have light, heat, stoves etc. Parcels twice a week & are eagerly awaited by all. After supper we wash & do a few circuits of the camp & be in the huts by 2100 hrs. – usually talk or play cards by candlelight until 2230 hrs. & then go to bed.

[underlined] Three weeks [/underlined] . More sport & still perfect weather. Played in several whist drives & bridge tournaments. Some new chaps came in & there was a crew from my sqn. so they gave me the latest news of the place. All the crews we were with have finished their tour so we would have too only for getting

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shot down. Still its O.K. here – I’m fit & well, conditions are fair enough & at least we keep early hour & save money. Plenty of time for thought & I have often wondered about friends & wish I could let them know I’m O.K. – still everything takes time – x 4 [underlined] weeks [/underlined] . The news is still good Jerries communiques admit allied advances on all fronts & the new chaps give us confirmation of this. Had a very good day Sept 2. – all day sports. Went is a few events, very interesting side shows too – dice, coconut [deleted word] shies etc. & boxing at night. Also had news from Geneva, the parcels are to be cut in half – still we can manage. The nights are getting longer but still sunny days – bit cooler

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Jerry transport still very bad – I’ve only see one lorry & 1 horse drawn cart all the time – we get our rations in a cart pulled by about a dozen chaps. There are comps as to when the war will end – the sooner the better – a lot of new books in the library too.

6 [underlined] weeks [/underlined] . weather still sunny but getting cold, especially at night. We have got a lot of new band instruments for the band & a ciné projector. A Red Cross man came around & [deleted word] put a few things OK. We should be moving shortly so had quite a good time on my birthday, more books in the library.

7 weeks – another lot of new chaps in

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but none I knew, would like to get news of the sqn. Now have a good stock of parcels in the camp – weather getting very cold now, especially at night.

[underlined] 12 October [/underlined] . At last we have moved to the new camp and its really very good. Each division has a barrack block and that is divided up into rooms each holding 14+ and 2 small rooms. We were lucky in getting a small room – 8 of us together & it works very well packing food etc.

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The lights are on until 2200 hrs which makes things very agreeable – able to play cards or read at night now. Weather still good & food coming in regularly, still living well. The rooms are very cosy & when we get the fires in things will be very good. Rec’d more comforts [deleted word] razor blades, soap, etc. My W/O due the 1st of this month – good thing. More new chaps in but I don’t know anyone. Some mail for the division, but don’t know anyone. Life will be much more pleasant in these new barracks.

17 [underlined] th October [/underlined] Red [inserted] [indecipherable word] [/inserted] letter day! Playing in a

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bridge tournament & called and got a grand slam, rec’d winter underwear and best of all 2 letters one from Lillian & one from Gladys. Felt really on top of the world especially as I did not expect them. Evidently they knew I was O.K. about 3 weeks after I was shot down – good show! as I know how many people would worry & the news coming thro’ that quickly would be a big relief to them. I’ve never had letters that churned me up so much as these two, so am looking forward to some more.

Nov 2. We had a “dance” in the mess hall. Some of the chaps

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dressed up for the occasion – it was really good and a very pleasant change. Rec’d two more letters, one from Kedock House & Gladys.

Nov. 8. First fall of snow & very cold – slush & mud everywhere. Very glad of the fires. Food situation OK stuff.

Armistice Day – we held a parade at 1000 & short service & last post & silence for 2 mins. Very good show & went off well. Still snowing. Temperamental weather. Parcels messed up again. We now have a lot of “Weigee” boards which are supposed to answer questions. Went to a session with the boys & got some joy – don’t know what it is but the tapping must come from somewhere

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& it wasn’t us. Its interesting and we’re “Weigeites” now. [underlined] Dec. 3. [/underlined] Lovely today & at 1330 hrs. air raid sounded & later we saw about 500 Forts & Libs. overhead. What a sight – their vapour trails in the sky – could see the kites as they flew by in formation – lasted about 1/2 hr. they bombed quite close & could hear the bombs bursting. [underlined] Dec 10 [/underlined] . Saw [indecipherable word] Bros.” at theatre also several good plays & musicals. [indecipherable word] went pretty good. New M.O. & padre. More letters, Gladys & Maureen. Lives very hard – 1 parcel every fortnight & short Jerry rations so we go hungry again. Played in bridge tournament & a letter from Gladys & 1 readdressed. Come Xmas. – wizard day & early parade, breakfast plenty of [indecipherable word] & cream & [indecipherable word]

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coffee. Played bridge in the morning coffee & biscuits. Dinner – pork loaf, spam spuds, veg, - quite a lot, followed by a big helping of the puddings we made. my [indecipherable word] pud, pudding full of fruit & plenty of choc. sauce followed by coffee & bis. cheese. I felt really full for the first time. Good football game in the afternoon & went to see the boys. [underlined] Tea [/underlined] . [inserted] soup. [/inserted] bacon & eggs & spuds, toast, Xmas cake. Tea – excellent cake – light & rich [underlined] Supper [/underlined] 4 toast & jam etc. & cake & 1 bar choc. We saved a lot of food but was worth it had a wizard day. Dance at night. A very enjoyable Xmas under circs. 2 new chaps in the room – one chap from Tamworth – Johnny [indecipherable word] also good war news. The “do” at night was swell dance with band & singing. [underlined] Boxing day [/underlined] – ordinary day – finished Xmas stuff.

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The Crew

Arrived at O.T.U. at – with the rest of the chaps I had done N.F.U. with and after being there a short while the business of crewing up started. All [indecipherable word] aircrew categories were represented and the pilots had to pick out their crews. That’s where I met Jim – he was looking for a B/A & asked me if I would crew up with him. He looked a good type so I said OK. Next we got a navigator & W/Op. As the nav. knew a rear gunner we got him in the crew – making a full Aussie crew. For the first few weeks we were on ground course so didn’t see much

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of each other, although we had one crew night in town which brought us together more. After the ground course we moved to – for our flying and as we were all in the same hut we got to know each other better & found out we got on well together and as we were all N.C.O.s we were in the same mess.

Jim Walsh, the skipper was from Canberra, in the timber business before the war, a small very fair chap. The Nav Keith Smith was from Hurlstone Park and was in a bank, pre war. Pat Conway, the W/OP

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was from Queensland, and was a reporter on a Brisbane paper & Matt Whitely the rear gunner was from Perth and was in an insurance office before he joined up & finally my self, the B/A. Jim was the oldest, being 27, Pat was 23 & the rest of us under 21. We had a very good time at - , and got plenty of time off, when we nearly always went to - . It was a grand life – while it lasted and we got on exceptionally well as a crew & usually went out together. After a while we acquired girl friends at - , and

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then we would get together & have a theatre party, dance etc. Had some really wizard times at “Jimmys” & the Palais de Dance. We knew that town really well, used to stay the night at the Y.M.C.A. & come home in the bus in the morning. We also had some good leaves in London together. We all had bikes & after landing late we would cycle into the local village & spend an [deleted] night [/deleted] evening there. The mess was good too & we spent some good “in” evenings and also at the

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WAAF dances that were held.

Our flying was good – had a few spots of excitement – once over the Irish sea when something in the bomb bay of the Wimpy caught fire, but got it out OK & once on landing the [indecipherable word] was very bad & the flaps went for a row at about 000ft so we just hit the deck & bounced twice – then the stbd. undercart leg snapped & the kite swung & scraped its underside – we all got out unhurt except Matt who hit his head on his turret, but nothing serious.

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Finished up at O.I.U. all passing out A1 & sent on leave & reported at Con unit at & - . Here we picked up the rest of the crew, the mid upper gunner & the engineer. The M.U.G. was an English chap, Huward [sic] Lloyd, a salesman in civil life in Birmingham. He was married & had been years in the R.A.F. He was 33. Bob Palmer was the engineer, from Doncaster, married & a coal miner in civil life, also 4 years service. Got on well with the English chaps and were a A1 crew in the air and on the

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ground. We had some very good times at Con. Unit, at the local villages and at S- and L-. Were flying Halifaxes & getting on fine – finally passed out. Jim, Keith & myself being recommended for commissions. Came to [indecipherable word] sqn where we got settled in & used [deleted] th [/deleted] to the new kites. Theres no doubt about it, life on the sqn is really wizard & with leave every six weeks & Nuffield scheme it makes things very good, as there are only ops to do & most of the rest of the time is your

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own. The drome was one of the best, a peace time place, so wasn’t dispersed so living conditions, the mess etc. were A1 & the food good & several good towns nearby. Had a good time & got around [deleted] q [/deleted] quite a bit. During the whole 7 months we were on the sqn we got an A1 as a crew & [deleted word] as pals were all N.C.O.s & Jim’s WO came through & then his DFC & then his commission closely followed by his F/O. & 3 of us up for our commissions. Those were the days – we moved to another

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drome quite close by also peace time. Had a great time there & gradually got 30 trips in & others got to 32 & had only about 5 to finish when we caught our packet & I was the only one to get out. We were in a very good position from 25 trips on as we were a senior crew we were off most of the ops & had a lot of time to ourselves so we got out a lot. I was very friendly with a WAAF at the sqn so saw a lot of her lately but I guess our number was up &

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we went for a [indecipherable word] on Stuttgart & now I can just remember & think of the good times I had, & wait for the war to end.

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Our Kite “P” Peter.

When we first came to the sqn we shared “S” Sugar with another crew. Soon however we were given “X”. Did several trips in it but it wasn’t much of a kite – no height or speed. Went on leave & when we came back found it had gone missing. After that we were given “P” Peter. She was a fairly new kite then & one of the best on the sqn. The radar & equipment was good, subject to the usual faults etc, of course, but nothing serious. Everything seemed O.K. &

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we did all our trips in “P”. Bob the engineer had a little yellow rabbit given to him at the start of our tour, as a mascot, & we called him Peter & used to put a bomb on him for every trip. He used to ride in the nose of the kite every trip, never missed. While we were around 20 trips a few faults began to develop in the old kite, - she had been used a lot for local stuff & she was slowly losing its speed & height. We were in the invasion on D day & did a few French targets. On

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one trip we got down as far as Bristol & the port inner stopped – feathered it O.K. & as the target was just inland from the Cherbourg coast we carried on & bombed on 3 engines & 12000 ft. & landed on a south coast drome under very bad weather conditions. Found the engine had just seized & was now useless. She was fitted with a new motor & back on ops. again. When she was in the hanger on inspection we flew other kites but usually off ops. altogether. Did a few

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more trips and then were briefed for a Happy Valley job. Everything went O.K. & we were at height & about 10 miles over the enemy coast going in, when the port outer went. Tried to start it but it wouldn’t, so feathered it after a bit of trouble, once nearly catching fire. Somehow there was no question of turning back – we all expected to go on. Had a heavy load on & lost about 8000 ft when we got to the target she was going very well on 3 engines. Bombed O.K. & turned off for home, luckily

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weren’t attacked although we saw some fighters. On the way home all the equipment worked perfectly so kept on track. Came across the North sea as dawn was breaking, a bit behind but it didn’t matter then as we were going slow to save gas. Arrived over our base & landed – a perfect landing. Everyone from the G/C down was very pleased with the show – later Jim was awarded the D.F.C. for this effort, and on our sqn. a D.F.C. really means something as very few

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are awarded. Several times we had engine problems & couldn’t get off & once hit a stand & took off minus a wing tip. Found the engine had seized after Happy Valley do so got a new motor. The ground crew painted a big rabbit on the kite & we had a little one for every trip instead of the usual bombs, the kite looked quite good. We had quite a few flack holes & fighter attacks & all our guns had been fired in combat. When Jim got his P/O we tied a P/O ribbon on Peter & also a DFC. ribbon on him. Continued on until we got up to 32 trips and then were briefed for Stuttgart –

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got there O.K., the old kite was going extra well after we bombed & turned off we got a flak or a fighter hit in the Kite, & the old kite just blew up & I was blown out thro’ the nose Well she was a good old kite, one of the few original ones on the sqn. & had the reputation of always getting back – but theres always a last time. She finished a long and honourable career by [deleted word] falling in a field in Germany, unfortunately taking the crew except myself with her.

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[underlined] Camp Songs [/underlined]

Any Day (Tune Bless ‘em All)

They say that this war cannot last very long
It’s only a matter of years
All of our optimists cannot be wrong
In spite of the pessimists fears
So lets get together & have a good time
Pretend that were drinking our beers
We ought to be home while were still in our prime
As its only a matter of years

[underlined] CHORUS [/underlined]
Any day, any day, we shall be flying away
Back to old Blighty & breakfast in bed
Milk from a bottle & loads of white bread
For were going away any day
Tell Churchill we don’t want to stay
Just land us over the White Cliffs of Dover
And well walk the rest of the way

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Tune – You Are My Sunshine

The other night boys while we were flying
The night was dark & black as pitch
Up came the flak bursts & then the fighters
And out poor kite we had to ditch.

[line]

The came the Jerries & we were captured
And taken to the jail
We had a feed there & I assure you
The bread was coarse & black & stale

[line]

Early next morning when we awoke boys
The [sic] took us to the Gestapo
We got no food nor cigarettes boys
And to their questions we said no.

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After this course of human kindness
We went to Dulag Luft Hotel
The rooms were single, the food was lousy
And there was a nasty smell.

[line]

Interrogation was unsuccessful
They only kept us for a week
Name, rank & number was all we gave them
After that we would not speak

[line]

And then the clouds turned into sunshine
The Red Cross parcels came our way
So in this camp we live in comfort
Waiting for the freedom day

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The other night dear as I was dreaming
I dreamt of you so far away
But when the day comes & we are free dear
I’ll be back with you to stay.

[line]

Freedom is sunshine, the only sunshine
It makes us happy, it makes us gay
Despite the hardships theres consolation
That our mates will win the day.

[double line]

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Tune Bless em All

Theres a 4-engined bomber just leaving its base
Bound for an alien shore
Heavily laden with cookies & such
Presents to even the score

[line]

Theres many a flak battery throwing up hell
Theres many a bomber can fall
The unlucky bod, that gets caught, the poor sod
Shouts, reach for your parachutes all

[line]

Bless em all, Bless em all, flak batts & fighters & all
Bless all the AGs & Bomb Aimers too
Bless all the pilots & rest of the crew
For were saying goodbye to them all
As to the escape hatch they crawl
We havent a notion, if were over the ocean
So cheer up my lads, let us fall

[line]

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I wandered lonely as a cloud
That Pleats on high in straggling bits
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of yellow Messerschmitts
And now interned for the duration
I wish I had not broke formation

Rothman Pall Mall
medium strong
Balkan Sob

[line]

The taste of summer in a ripened pear,
Tell them how they are missed, say not to fear
Its going to be alright with us down here.

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Let them in Peter, they are very tired,
Give them the couches where the angels sleep.
Let them wake whole again to new dawns
Fired with sun, not war, and may their peace be deep [line] .
Remember where the broken bodies lie
And give them things they like. Let them make noise
God knows how young they were to have to die.
Give them swing bands, not gold harps, to these our boys
Give them love Peter, they have had no time [line]
Girls sweet as meadow winds, with flowing hair
They should have trees, bird songs, hills to climb [symbol]

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[The remainder of the transcription continue from the last page of the document as the author commenced the story of the Long March from the reverse of the notebook]

[blank page]

The March across Germany
Jan – March 1945

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[underlined] Boxing [/underlined] Day. – very heavy raid – still snow about but good day. Recovering from Xmas feast.

27th Air raid – chap shot for going outside by a Jerry whose family had just been bombed.

31st Dec. Jerry left the lights on until 1am so saw the New Year in. “Dance” & concert in the hall.

1/1/45. Another good day – porridge & toast for breakfast coffee & bisc for break. Dinner soup & spuds & pudding & sauce & cheese bisc. really wizard pudding. Tea, sausages & cheesed potatoes & cold pudd, supper toast & bisc. good day. (Got some “NOEL” MILL JAM Argentine caramel cond. milk)

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Finished with the dentist – he is a wizard dentist & made a good job. Rec’d a letter from home & 5 others. Feel better now I have heard from home. 4th More parcels in. Bags of rumours going about. Saw a good show at theatre. Pantomania – good costumes & settings. An Aussie came in & told us of the chaps in England they’re on a good racket, wish I was there, getting very browned off. Gratuities when we get home 1/3 year pay for every year? 17th. Big flap – Joes on his way 35 miles away – given 1 hr notice to move so we ate all we could & made toffee

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& divided the rations & am now waiting to move – one hell of a flap everywhere – stores & cookhouse ratted [sic] & “free for all”. Tension is high 1200 hrs & still “at ready” bags of rumours – Joes very close – road congested with Jerry transport – 1600 hrs – more rumours & food 1700 hrs given 4 days rations – do we march? all prepared. 1730 – told we stop until tomorrow – OK 1815 stand by to march – another feed & more rations. [deleted word] [underlined] 2000 [/underlined] still standing by – wild rumours

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Joe’s each side of us. Concert on now for an hour, still very indefinite but think we’ll be here tonight. The room looks bare – everything has been taken down – band instruments & stores, library etc ratted [sic] . Parade 0900 – formed into marching order, then went back to stand by. Still a lot of Jerry stuff going back by road – 1130 – air raid 1310 – news that we stay here 3 days then go by train – who knows? 1345 parade again. 1415 out in marching order. We all get out ready [inserted] 1 coy [sic] first – back to room [/inserted] & after a bit of messing ready to go them came air raid. Bombs landed very close – we all got under bed – ready to move 0330 then 0500 then cancelled. We stay – 0530 out again & we moved off

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(Started 19 Jan)

Counted no all & started marching – very heavy going – bags of trucks going back – very few rests 1130 stop for rest 1/2 hr. so discard most of kit – there was kit everywhere. Move again 1400 everyone dog tired rest 1/4 hr 1530 arrived at village for night after 1 hr we finally get billeted – 100 to a small barn [inserted] went 34 KM [/inserted] very crowded & no lights – fitful sleep & awake 0400 & out again on march. Bags of gunfire 0900 – stop for eats – more kit diced [sic] . 1130 arrived at a town & put in factory – everyone buggered & had a rest – hot brew. Stayed in factory afternoon brew 1800 air raid alarm 1900. Left at 2000 – very cold. Marched all night with 4 short breaks -38 degrees below – chaps dropping out everywhere. Arrived at a village (across Oder) at 0700 – no billet so had to go

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7 Kilos more to a place after a night of hell. Had hot coffee & went to bed in the dark. Wake at 1600 & more coffee & bread – got few biscuits and lots of the chaps very bad. Went to sleep 1900. Supposed to stay 2 days but woken at 0100 & had to get moving as Joe was supposed to be very near. Got going and marched until 1100 hrs arrived at a farm & stayed coffee. Eats very short. Got a break & saw M.O. about my leg – just strained. Soup at teatime & biscuits – supposed to stay till morning? [inserted] 22 Km [/inserted] – perhaps. bags of explosions. We stayed & moved out at 0830. Managed to get some cocoa & bread before leaving. Snowing & very cold. We went 26Km hard marching with

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a few stops. Bags of refugees & Jerry army on the roads. More chaps sick. Finally arrived at destination at 1700 another farm. Settled in & made brew & cats [sic] still bloody cold & no food left. Soup at 1930, back to bed – froze during night. Woke up [deleted word] & made coffee & few biscuits. During morning we roasted spuds we scrounged. 1/2 cup soup for dinner. 1/2 loaf bread. Bags wild rumours. Shifted to a loft & had a good sleep. & woken 0230 & by 0400 were on the road marching again. [inserted] Lost knife in loft. [/inserted] Marched all the morning with 2 halts & passed bags of refugees & army staff roads cluttered up. Finally arrived at destination at 1400 & saw a column of Lansdorf army chaps also on the march.

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Billeted in another farm – not very comfortable got org. stew - 1 cup for tea & 1/5 loaf bread had [indecipherable word] & went to sleep – rather cold. Woke up 0730, made cocoa had piece bread. Lots rumours, supposed to move midday. Didn’t move off so got some spuds & cooked them & ate them.1/2 cup soup for tea 2/5 loaf of bread & marj. Coffee at night. Cold again – woke up at 0800 - & moved off 1100 – marched all day – 2 halts ate raw spuds & little bread. Arrived at a barn at 1730 – very cold & crowded & dark – 1/2 cup at 1900 & went sleep. Woken up 0330 & on the road again – 0430 – snowing & exceptionally cold. Did 22 Kilos – 2 halts. Hands frozen & little food.

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Got to a farm 1230 – same style. Snow stopped. [indecipherable word] better to scrounge. Friday Sun. 28th. Stayed the night – 1/2 cup soup & 1/10 loaf, meat & marj & bisc. Next day bitterly cold, 1/2 soup, no bread. Left at 1730 – snowing & cold wind. Started marching 1830- were promised soup, bread at 6 Km but didn’t get it. Wind very biting. First 6 Km O.K. then we started on open country wind terrible – 1/2 blizzard – snow drifts 18” deep on the road, very heavy going. Bags of convoys. We were always halting for tracks & the wind blowing ice & snow. Passed a body frozen from exposure on the road in the deep snow. The only relief from wind when we went thro’ towns. The march seemed endless – kept on plodding along, no

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good stopping. After 11 hours we arrived – 22 Km. Everyone buggered still no soup or cots [sic] so went to bed in a barn & slept [deleted word] from 0530 to 1200. Promised transport for rest of journey. The worst night I have ever spent in my life. Stayed the night fairly warm 1/5 loaf bread up next day & marj. Food very scarce. No transport. Not going to Sagan now – to near Munich. Joe rapidly advancing. Rumours & gunfire. Supposed to move tomorrow. Stayed the day – no bread or food, just the 1/2 cof. Slept the night moved at 0700hrs. Roads very wet [inserted] [indecipherable word] can muck [/inserted] rain. Arrived at a lousy farm – exceptionally crowded & dirty. Stay here until transport arrives 1 spud 2/5 bread & 1/24 marj each. Fairly warm at night. 1/2 cup barley in the morning – 2 more 1/2 cups barley & 1 spud. Another rotten night – hellish crowded – cattle

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etc. in with us. Very hungry – Next day – Feb 3 I think – Lost all count of time etc. Managed to trade [indecipherable word] for 1/4 loaf bread. Chaps trading watches, cig cases for 2 loaves bread. Another 1/6 loaf bread today & 1/7 black marj. 2 spuds 2 loaves from Cookhouse. Everyone looks a wreck now. Another crowded night. Next day Sunday, Church. 1/5 bread 2 cookhouse brews. 1700 – we are supposed to leave by train tomorrow for Stalag 3A near Berlin Hope so. Big flap at 1800 – rations for trip in. Dishing out bread, marj & pâte in the dark – then stew at 2200. Got to sleep & woken at 0400 – walked to Goldberg – 8Km & on the train. 66 to a cattle truck. (Pinched a can of milk on the road & had a few cupfuls [sic] each). Got aboard 0945 & got 1/12 bread. Finally moved off 1330 – went for hour then stopped. The whole trip

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is short runs & long stops bloody crowded night – can’t lie down. Woke up still the same all day stops & starts. Food very short. Another lousy night. Stopped all night & until 1230 (Fday) 1/2 slice breakfast. 1/4 slice dinner. Moved 3 Km. No sign of getting anywhere. No food at all or water. Some working P.O.W.s at siding – rumour of advances. Supposed to be a traffic jam. Moved during the night & stopped at a town. Supposed to be the place – hope so, as everyone is starving – It is the place got off & marched 2 Km. A civvie gave me a bit of bread – nearly saved my life! Behind wire again good Slowly got showered – clothes offirst [sic] time for 21 days weak as a chicken – get food about 6, no parcels but possibility of some soon. At last the Retreat from Bankau finishes. Given a hot shower & messed around, into billets on floor. Hot soup & spuds at 6.30. Later more soup. Felt [sic] OK saw

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some of the boys from Sagan – few cigs. Good sleep, felt [sic] a lot better. Shave in the morning & rations organised. Red + organising things. Lots of army bods here. OK when we get organised. So ends our nightmare march from Bankau. We wont forget! Good food midday – soup spuds. Took us 3 days to do 160 miles in the train. Marched about 260 Km. More or less normal life from now I hope on Jerry rations – which are [deleted word] poor. Went to see a show here - rather good. Changed razor blades at “canteen” for marks & bought “soup powder” (sawdust & pepper) & tea first time I’ve had money for 6 months. We just exist on these rations (4 spuds 1/4 litre soup stuff & 1/5 loaf & spread). Been here a week just existing & dreaming of food & home & civilisation. Still lots of rumors [sic] .

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The war was over [inserted] armistice signed [/inserted] - but what now? The dead were still dead; no miracle of human signature could restore limbs & sight & sanity; the grinding hardships of [deleted words] those 5 years could not be wiped out by a headline.

[line]
[line]
[line]

Citation

Keith Campbell, “Keith Campbell's prisoner of war diary,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed October 23, 2021, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/31024.

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